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    January 6, 2016. Could it happen here? Possibly, in fact, much of it already is. However, some major changes have occurred in society to make it more difficult. People are much less trusting of the government, and war doesn't have that patriotic appeal as it did in 1935, and though the fear of Communism isn't an issue now, certainly our present government tries to keep the lust for slaughter alive through acts of (phony) terrorism. But we have been through Vietnam, and we have the internet, and we are not quite as naïve now, maybe. Though many fear the "NWO" we can also see that it seems to be struggling and not materializing as perhaps planned. Having said that I will make no more comparisons to the story with our present life.
    Lewis wrote this novel in the hopes of ruining the chances of Huey Long of Louisiana from running for president, (which was the belief of most literary critics of the time). Long ended up getting assassinated. It is interesting, and this is the last present-day comparison I will make, but when I was doing research on this book, I found a picture online of Trump with the above book cover in the background. Yes, I can see how one might connect the two.
    However, in the novel, the one running for president in 1935 on the democratic ticket was Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, against Republican Senator Walt Towbridge. Also on the ticket was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who became irrelevant. The setting for most of the story is a little town in Vermont, Fort Beulah. The main character is a sixty-year-old owner/editor of the Daily Informer, Doremus Jessup, whom his wife calls "Dormouse." He and his wife Emma have a son, Philip, an attorney in Worcester; a daughter, married to a fine doctor, Fowler Greenhill, and they have a son, David. Sissy is the only daughter still at home, a teenager. Life is calm, pleasant, and predictable, but that is soon to change.
    Windrip is one of those charismatic liars, sort of like TV evangelists, who has promised the country prompt and sweeping changes once he is elected. They have no idea just how prompt and sweeping. He promises a check for $5,000 every year to every legitimate family. That, of course, does not include Negroes or Jews. His plan for women is to ease them back where they belong—as homemakers with six children. He plans to break up the labor unions and take away the profits from rich bankers, putting it back into the people's hand. (I can see how some might agree with him.) But most of all, it is his lust for war and a strong military, which will be formed at schools as part of the curriculum. Well, you get the idea. Though many of the townspeople readily support Windrip, Doremus is terrified. And to make matters worse, Windrip has Bishop Prang, who is an extremely popular radio evangelist rooting for him, but his real backbone has been built by one Lee Sarason, (who is obviously gay), and manipulates events in the background. Even as he begins his campaign in earnest, he has 15 "planks" on which he will build a new and strong America. Briefly, they include a government takeover of all finance and labor unions, a cap set on the amount of money one may make in a year, restrictions on religion, a building up of the military and greatly expanding the income of military personnel, taking rights away from Negroes, Jews and women, the right of the government to issue as much new money as needed, death to all Communists and Socialists, but most important is that the President would have complete authority to do whatever he deemed right, without the approval of Congress, which would serve only in an advisory capacity, nor could the Supreme Court negate anything put into place by the President.
    And still he gets elected.
    One of the first acts after his inauguration is to "demand instant passage of a bill. . .that he should have complete control of regulation and execution, and the Supreme Court be rendered incapable of blocking anything that it might amuse him to do."
    The Congressmen who oppose it are immediately jailed when the President proclaims a state of martial law.
    Meanwhile, the "Minute Men" or "M.Ms" as they are called, the basically untrained militia who had been part of the decoration around Windrip's campaign are now getting larger, more powerful, and better armed. It seems they are everywhere, spying and sniffing out anyone who is not in complete support of Windrip's Fascist regime. Doremus is increasingly nervous, and also realizes he cannot trust those people whom he spent his life calling his friends. And even more audacious, Windrip has dissolved the states, and created districts instead, appointing his own men in positions of power.
    Incidentally, the $5,000 a year to be given to each family, obviosly never materializes. Meanwhile, colleges are shut down, books condemned, and professors fired. In the process of removing the "subversive elements" from Columbia University, Secretary of Education, Hector Macgoblin decides to look up his former teacher Dr. Willy Schmidt. Finding that he is visiting his gentle friend, Rabbi Dr. Vincent de Verez, Macgoblin, now quite drunk, finds his house, where he begins insulting them. Schmidt reprimands him for being drunk, and the Minute Men who had accompanied him shout that these two should be killed. And so they are, by Macgoblin's own pistol.
    But it isn't until Doremus dares to publish an article condemning the behavior of the new government, which has quickly become a totalitarian dictatorship that he realizes the extent of his danger. He had received the article about the cold-blooded shooting of the two venerable professors, and he reaches his point of toleration.
    As expected, Doremus is arrested, and taken to court presided over by Effingham Swan, the worst of the worst. He has no attorney to represent him, which would have done no good anyways. But his son-in-law, Dr. Fowler Greenhill bursts in to help him and mouths off to the judge. Fowler is taken outside and shot to death.
    Doremus is released, but he no longer runs his own paper. Emil Staubmeyer is now editor in charge, and Doremus must write only as he allows. This doesn't go on for too long before Doremus announces he is retiring. From the paper, perhaps.
    When Windrip was elected, so many people tried to flee to Canada that the borders were patrolled by M.Ms. Doremus had tried to escape also, but there was no way out. When Walt Towbridge lost the election, guards were put around his ranch, but one night of celebration, where he managed to get all the Minute Men drunk, he made a dramatic escape by a plane to Canada. There, he helped organize the New Underground, and now Doremus and his trusted friends work for his cause. Meanwhile, other escape paths have been created through the woodlands to avoid the border patrol, and many people are able to run to freedom.
    But, nevertheless, he is found out, and then comes the most horrific part of the book, the torture in the concentration camp where he sees many of his loyal friends die.
    And on that I will end, but I hope everyone takes the time to read this terrifying and fascinating look at what the future could become, yes, even here. Highly recommended.


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